ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX502GW Review - Gaming laptop with a modern design
Laptops for avid gamers in the vast majority of cases are united by one common characteristic - they are powerful and often ugly. However, there are also those that resemble ordinary ultrabooks. One such piece is the Zephyrus S from the Republic of Gamers brand, backed by Asus.
ROG Zephyrus S (GX502GW) ended up in our editorial office and after a few days of hard testing I have to say that I had the honor of a top gaming station. You can play any game title on it, without the hassle of a low frame rate or poor graphics. It is the ultimate gaming machine that will fit in a smaller backpack.
The best thing about it all, however, is that you won't be bothered by the tacky design either. On the contrary, this laptop looks better than many workstations for demanding users. It has not only a mobile version of the GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card , but also thin frames around the display and a modern design with a touch of minimalism .
Design and construction
You will notice the visual difference between the ROG Zephyrus S and dozens of pieces from the competition after the first contact. The construction is square and maximally simple, because it consists of flat sides without unnecessary elements. From some angles it can be compared to the design of MacBooks from Apple, but it is completely dark and you will not find metal on the surface, but something diametrically different.
According to the official website, the magnesium-aluminum alloy is covered with fine leather , which does not capture fingerprints and improves comfort. It's a much more positive experience than having my hand on the metal. So if someone here prefers long game marathons, they will undoubtedly get their money's worth.
However, not all laptops are made of metal. The part where the display is located is made of high-quality plastic with a surface on which no fingerprints are also visible. However, when the structure is closed, it bends slightly. There are two hinges, but they are short, far apart, and there is a larger hole between them to see discreet LED lights.
ROG Zephyrus S is also significantly more compact and lighter than the competition, as it weighs less than 2 kilograms and its thickness reaches 18.9 millimeters (15 ″ MacBook Pro is 15.5 mm thick ). When I unwrapped it, I couldn't believe my eyes. After all, I had to come up with a state-of-the-art gaming laptop with proper hardware and not something that would playfully fit in my smaller backpack.
I only found out that it was a game monster after the construction opened. However, I do not mean only to move the display away from the keyboard, but to open the bottom so that there is enough space for air intake. Something like this happens automatically during opening and the user notices it immediately.
When the lower part of the structure opens, at that moment light from the LED lighting present begins to penetrate through the opening. Not only the keyboard is lit here, but also the logo on the back, including the sides of the notebook, which illuminate the surface of the table .
Everything except the subtly lit logo can be customized according to the taste of the user, who has the full color spectrum available. As with Razer products, several different types of lighting can be activated in this case. I personally sat static blue. However, there is also a choice of rainbow, cyclic rotation of individual colors or "smart" mode, which changes color according to the hardware temperature .
Other lighting with AURA technology can be synchronized with the keyboard and illuminated design. If it's within range, they can be interconnected in the Armory Crate app to work together.
Since this is a gaming notebook for the more demanding, the manufacturer has no choice but to build a cooling system that can handle the GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card and its brutal performance.
Professionally called the active aerodynamic system (AAS) is a combination of cleaning and cooling mechanism, where the above-mentioned suction vent of up to 7 millimeters plays an important role. Through it and a perforated panel above the keyboard, air flows into the structure to cool the hardware present. When it heats up, it comes out of four holes, which are located on the back and both sides.
The operation of the present n-Blade fans creates a cool environment in the left and right part of the keyboard, so even after several hours of playing, I was not bothered by the hot hardware. You will find the warmest place on the construction right in the middle and under the display, where no one is placing their hand, for which the manufacturer deserves a thumbs up. It is an ingeniously designed system that required a little more time.
The result of the work of the AAS cooling system can be found in the Performance section, where, among other things, my experience from playing games such as Overwatch, Battlefield V or Apex Legends is.
Another important part of the ROG Zephyrus S is its keyboard, for which it does not have to be ashamed. It consists of first-class mechanics with top response and low-profile buttons, it will not disappoint a passionate player or anyone who needs a quality workstation. She is great for both playing and writing.
On the sides of the construction there is a rich pile of ports, among which there is also a USB C. It is bidirectional , so it can be used not only with other electronic devices, but also with the laptop itself. This is either through a more compact adapter (for example with a power of 65 W) or a better external battery such as the Asus ZenPower Pro (PD).
Among other things, the user has three USB (3.2) standards with a type A port, a classic HDMI 2. 0 version, a Kensington lock, 2x 3.5 mm audio port (headphones and microphone) and a port for connecting an Ethernet cable. Simply everything a gamer needs.
However, you will look in vain for an external camera here. The ROG Zephyrus S notebook does not have one . Anyone who wants to stream will reach for an external alternative with significantly better quality than the hard-built one would offer.
It is also worth mentioning here, among other things, a special application Armory Crate, which also has its own hardware button . The user can regulate the activity of the cooling system, change the LED lighting or create profiles.
But the most interesting thing is that he understands the mobile application of the same name for the Android and iOS operating systems. This allows you to change settings or view current hardware information directly on the smartphone display . While playing, I was able to very cleverly find out, for example, how hot the graphics processor is.
Top processor, top graphics card, top design, so why not top audio? ROG Zephyrus S has, among other things, an honestly certified Hi-Fi system with virtual surround (7.1) sound, which consists of a pair of quality speakers, a premium DAC and an intelligent amplifier.
The hardware is hidden under the panel above the keyboard and I have to admit, it sounds really good. The sound output quality of this piece belongs to a higher class. Not that this would not be expected due to the price tag, but you will feel the money adequately in this area of equipment, where I would emphasize the purity of reproduction, including high volume with little distortion.
144 Hz, Full HD resolution, 3 millisecond response and bright and vibrant colors. These features are offered by the built-in 15-inch display with very thin frames, which is based on the usual IPS LCD technology . Therefore, it should be taken into account that the displayed black does not look like black as it is backlit. However, if I compare it with black on ordinary LCD panels, it is also much closer to reality thanks to the matte surface.
As for the overall quality of the display, I have absolutely no reservations. According to the manufacturer, the colors cover 100 percent of the sRGB standard (DisplayCAL showed me 90 percent), so great. And if that still wasn't enough for someone, they went through the validation of the renowned Pantone Institute . So they do not deceive the eyes of a more demanding gamer.
A higher refresh rate is already a basic part of the equipment of quality gaming laptops. The aforementioned 144 Hz will ensure a smoother picture change, and this will contribute to a better user experience. You will especially appreciate this in dynamic multiplayer games, where you can give an opponent with a dozen displays a hit sooner than he can give you.
ROG Zephyrus S, which ended up in the TECHBYTE editorial office, is powered by a combination of an Intel Core i7-9750H processor , a GeForce RTX 2070 Mobile graphics card and up to 32 GB of RAM . Thanks to this powerful hardware, he did not have the slightest problem tightening even the most graphically demanding game titles on the market.
It doesn't matter if you run PUBG, Overwatch, Apex Legends or Battlefield V on this set. In any case, you can count on playing a star unit. However, we will look at my experience from using this machine only after the result in the so-called synthetic benchmark.
The gut hardware gained just over 10, 500 points in the Superposition Benchmark. The test ran at Full HD resolution and high graphics details, and in terms of its result, the Zephyrus S notebook occupied a partition around which were classic desktop sets with GTX 1070 graphics cards.
Something similar could be expected from the creator due to the available information. During the introduction of mobile versions of graphics cards from the RTX series, Nvidia pointed out that they are slightly less powerful. The Notebookcheck website mentions 11 to 14 percent , which seems to fit.
The classic RTX 2070 for desktops achieves performance that is slightly better than the performance of the GTX 1080 card. And that is 10 to 15 percent better than the GTX 1070 for a change.
Experience of use
As I wrote, ROG Zephyrus S has no problem with any graphically demanding game, even when you set high visual details and play for several hours in a row. Based on my experience, I can now safely say that this is a machine for demanding players, which is currently not surprised by anything .
Below you will find a list of tested games, including recorded numbers such as hardware temperature or number of FPS after an hour of continuous play. Ray Tracing and DLSS were turned off in each case.
Overwatch - from 120 to 170 FPS / GPU - around 86 ° C
Apex Legends - from 110 to 150 FPS / GPU - around 85 ° C
HotS - from 100 to 150 FPS / GPU - around 60 ° C
Battlefield V - from 80 to 120 FPS / GPU - 86 around ° C
Thus, as can be seen from the test results, the temperature of the graphics card was in most cases around 85 degrees Celsius after an hour of intense gaming. However, she picked them up during the first few minutes and has not undergone any significant changes since then. Therefore, no too sharp fluctuations in FPS or anything like this were felt.
With high detail and turned off technologies, I was showing 80 to 90 FPS at critical moments while playing PUBG. Under normal circumstances, however, it ran at 100 FPS. As for Overwatch, Apex Legends or Heroes of the Storm, the vast majority of the time, over 100 FPS were displayed. In any one case, I played really great on this machine.
You just have to get used to the fact that spinning fans make quite a decent noise. However, given the focus of the laptop, there is nothing to be surprised.
The tested Battlefield V title also offers, in addition to first-class graphics, support for Ray Tracing and DLSS , which we will focus on in the next chapter. As we have the honor of two great innovations, they deserve more space.
Ray Tracing and DLSS
The equipment of the GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card with the advanced Turing architecture, which is a hardware part of the ROG Zephyrus S notebook, includes two technological cherries . One is Ray Tracing and the other is for DLSS change.
Ray Tracing enriches the game environment with real-time light tracking . So what does that mean? The user of this game machine will again have a slightly more realistic looking graphic. Every single shot from a tank, rifle or explosion of a mine will be seen in a reflection on the surface of a threshing floor, river or lake. It may sound cheap, but in practice you won't know how to get rid of those brutal visual effects.
However, Ray Tracing technology also has its disadvantage. When the user activates it in the game settings (the title must have the necessary support), the FPS may drop from then on, as the hardware load increases. Therefore, the repertoire also includes DLSS technology.
DLSS, or Deep Learning Super-Sampling, represents one of several types of AA (anti-aliasing) techniques that use artificial intelligence in rendering - a neural network. It is with its help that it can compensate for the loss of power from the activation of light tracking, because it relieves the graphics card. And not only that.
If supported by the game, Deep Learning Super-Sampling technology spice up the image with richer visual detail to make it even more crunchy for the user's eyes. It achieves something by rendering the game environment at a higher resolution than what the monitor itself can offer.
But it takes some time. Artificial intelligence must first learn for a while to bring the result that is expected of it.
What is the difference in FPS?
Well, we should have the theory behind us. Now let's look at the difference in FPS when playing with Ray Tracing and DLSS on and off. Both support the Battlefield V title, so we can compare the results with the numbers a little above.
Battlefield V - from 70 to 100 FPS / GPU - around 86 ° C
Ray Tracing consumes about 20 FPS . However, if you activate DLSS along with this great innovation, things will change significantly, because artificial intelligence will lighten the load on the graphics card. When I found myself in the middle of a large battlefield that was under the guise of bombers, the number of shots increased by about 10 to 15 FPS and the numbers did not fly as much as under normal circumstances.
If you turn off Ray Tracing and leave DLSS on, the number of frames per second will reach a similar level as without both technologies. Again, however, better stability needs to be highlighted, which will ultimately translate into better playability. It seemed to me that the laptop hardware had more control over the game.
Battery life is one of the last priorities for many gamers. However, there are also those who want to use their gaming station for work. The manufacturer has therefore integrated a special system through which the switching between the two graphics cards present takes place. If high performance is not required at the moment, Optimus technology can activate the integrated graphics card to save electricity.
If you only need something around six hours of endurance , you will be satisfied. During this time, I used a text editor, surfed the web and listened to music, so it was not a demanding operation.
You will feel at a lower performance when playing without a connected source. In the MOBA title Heroes of the Storm, after disconnecting from the mains, it showed me between 30 - 40 frames per second (normally 100 - 150 FPS), which is practically unplayable. That is, at least with the original (high) graphic settings. When you become modest, you can lift it, but who cares about battery life with this type of laptop? This is primarily about portability.
About an hour of charging using the original power supply from the box, which has a power of 220 W, replenished about 75% of the battery capacity . The whole process can take about an hour and a half.
The ultimate hi-tech piece for above - standard demanding players who care about both quality construction and design. So I could describe this machine from the Republic of Gamers brand. If you are bothered by the complexity or space requirements of a regular desktop computer, you will definitely come to your own.
ROG Zephyrus S (GX502GW) offers high- performance hardware with modern technological solutions, sophisticated cooling, a colorful and above all dynamic display, including a visual design that will delight many lovers of minimalism. This is how every honest gaming laptop with such a high price tag should look and work.